The Importance of Backing Up Your Files

The Importance of Backing Up Your Files

Backing up audio files in a tape archive
Photo credit: Jorge Gonzalez under CC License
Am I at risk of losing important data?

If you regularly use a personal computer, or even a tablet device, then data corruption and file loss may have been headaches you’ve dealt with in the past – and even if they haven’t, they’re very real problems that could affect you in the future. There are over a billion PCs in use worldwide, according to statistics released by Gartner, and other reports indicate that over 10% of them crash every single day.

We live in an age in which our computers are more and more central to our lives. But a 2008 study by Webroot shows that 20% of all PC users never back up their files, while a further 12% back them up less than once a year. This results in a huge loss of information, including photographs, music, addresses, and phone numbers, as well as important business documents and résumés. More than two in five PC users have permanently lost files at some point in their lives.

A computer crash is usually the reason behind file or data loss, but you may also lose files due to viruses, theft, software corruption or even natural disasters. The top ten most common causes of data loss among computer users are:

  1. Accidental deletion
  2. Computer viruses and malware
  3. Physical damage
  4. Accidental reformatting
  5. Head crashes
  6. Logical errors
  7. Continued use after signs of failure
  8. Power failure
  9. Firmware corruption
  10. Natural disasters
Can I recover lost files?

While you may be able to recover some lost files, this process can be both costly and time-consuming. The best solution is to preempt file loss, and prevent it from ever becoming a serious problem, by backing up your files. This way, if your PC does crash and your data becomes corrupted, you can simply reload the most recent backup to restore the data.

You can back up files on a CD, DVD, or even an external hard drive. You can even find software that can automate the process of backing up for you, so that you don’t have to worry about doing it manually – Windows users can take advantage of Microsoft’s free backup software, or, if you prefer, third-party developers such as Acronis and Code42 have published their own alternatives.

If you’d prefer not to back up your files onto physical storage, then you can use a service such as Dropbox to back your files up online.

What are the advantages of backing up my computer online?

If you back up your files online, they’re stored on a cloud server. This way, you can access your files from any computer in any place in the world, and at any time. This is a useful way to keep track of important files across multiple computers – you can work on a document on one computer at home, then edit it again later from a different computer at work, all without having to worry about copying the latest version onto a flash drive.

Online backups also allow you to share your files more easily with your friends and family. Even if a file is too large to attach to an email, you can send the recipient a direct link to the file’s location in the cloud instead, and they’ll be able to view and download it. And if you’re part of a group project at work, you can create a backup which everybody has permission to edit, allowing the entire team to easily view and modify the latest versions of shared documents.

Backing up files using an external hard drive
Photo credit: Roman Soto under CC License
We will not unfriend our Facebook friends after they die according to new report

We will not unfriend our Facebook friends after they die according to new report

Facebook is being used more and more as a tool to remember and mourn the deceased, and keep their memory alive for posterity.

According to new research for Dying Matters, many British adults would not unfriend someone they know on Facebook – even after that person has died.

ComRes, a member of the British Polling Council surveyed over 2,085 adults living in the UK between the 15th and 17th April 2016.

Its dataset was weighted to be representative of all UK adults aged over 18.

The survey found that only 8 percent of people would unfriend their connection soon afterwards when someone they know on Facebook dies. 40 percent would maintain the friend connection.

The survey also found that 50 percent of people did not agree that Facebook is a good way of sharing news of a death beyond the immediate circle of family and friends.

26 percent of people thought it was a good way of sharing news of a death beyond the immediate circle of family and friends

21 percent thought that Facebook was the best way to share news of a terminal diagnosis beyond close friends and family. However 58 percent disagreed with the method.

Younger people are more likely to be comfortable sharing such news on Facebook than older Facebook users.

25 percent of Facebook users ages from 18-24-year-olds agreed that they would share that they knew they were dying on Facebook. This percentage rose to 31 percent for 25-34-year-olds.

The most employable technologists of the future will be the ones who can see the bigger picture, understand business, and adapt to the sweeping changes in tech.

Interestingly, men are slightly more likely to unfriend someone on Facebook soon after that person’s death.

10 percent agreed that they would, compared with 7 percent of women.

The survey also shows that there are limits to what we are willing to share on Facebook.

Age plays a large factor in what we share online.

For example, only 11 percent of those over the age of 65 would inform their Facebook friends of their condition if the prognosis was terminal.

This research highlights that our willingness to share personal information such as diagnosed conditions, and areas relating to end of life will increase in the coming years.

After death, Facebook becomes a memorial to that person with friends and family contributing to memories of the deceased person.

James Norris of the Digital Legacy Association said “This shows how important Facebook is as a tool to remember and mourn the deceased.

That so few people would unfriend someone on Facebook after their death gives us a small indication as to the importance Facebook is providing into posterity.”

Prince’s death highlights importance of writing a Will

Prince’s death highlights importance of writing a Will

Prince

The death of the world famous popstar has shone a light on how important it is to have a Will in place says Hannah Blakey.

On 21 April 2016 the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday. A day of jubilation was planned, honouring the Queen’s life and her dedication to the Commonwealth and international affairs. On the day, however, it was the death of a Prince which shared the headlines alongside the life of a Queen.

For, also on 21 April, Prince, one of the twentieth century’s greatest musical artists, was found dead in a lift on his Paisley Park estate, near Minneapolis. In interviews with friends following his death, Prince has been described as healthy in his habits, tireless at work and an energetic creator who avoided alcohol and recreational drugs. His death has therefore left investigators and mourners alike grappling with how the musician’s life could have come to such a sudden end.

The unexpected nature of Prince’s death, tragically at the age of 57, alongside a flurry of other shocking celebrity deaths in 2016, exemplifies the importance of having appropriate estate planning in place. As it is never possible to know what is waiting around the next bend, preparation is vital.

On this side of the pond, the first step that all should take, once they are over eighteen, is putting in place a Will. By doing so, it is possible to avoid the inflexible intestacy rules that would otherwise apply, ensuring that you are in control of where your estate passes. Someone in the public eye, like Prince, should also prepare the Will with publicity in mind: a Will becomes public document after a person’s death. Including a trust or overriding power in a Will not only provides flexibility to adapt to whatever the future holds (a key consideration when you are putting a Will in place which is unlikely to be needed for decades) but can also protect the identity of heirs.

A key element of putting in place a Will is considering who to appoint as executors of your estate. The executors are responsible for collecting in and distributing the estate of the person who has died in accordance with the terms of their Will. The role of an executor is one of great responsibility. It can also be an onerous job, so it is important to consider whether those chosen will have the time and abilities to take on the role, especially at what is likely to be a highly emotional period.

To aid your future executors, the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme Protocol recommends the completion and maintenance of a Personal Assets Log. By keeping an informal inventory of your assets (and storing important policy documents alongside this list), you will enable your executors to piece together more easily what you own (and if your executors are professionals, more cost-effectively).

In the technological age in which we live, it is vital that, in preparing this log, you consider leaving clear instructions about what should happen to social media, computer games and other online accounts after your death, as well as more tangible assets. Preparing a list of all your online accounts, such as email, banking, investments and social networking sites, will make it easier for executors to work out your digital legacy and adhere to your wishes. Leaving a list of accounts (rather than a list of passwords and PIN numbers) is preferable, as an executor accessing your account with passwords and PIN details could be committing a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

With an estimated estate of £200 million, and with no living children or partner, it is not yet clear who will inherit Prince’s fortune or the rights to his music. Wherever his assets pass, it is undoubtable that Prince’s memory will live on through his innovative music that defined an era.

People remain friends on Facebook with people who have died – New data from Dying Matters

People remain friends on Facebook with people who have died – New data from Dying Matters

40% of British adults wouldn’t unfriend someone they know on Facebook even after that person has died, according to new research for Dying Matters. The survey of over 2,000 adults by ComRes found that only 8% of people agreed that when someone they know on Facebook dies, they unfriend their account soon after, compared with 40% who disagreed.

The survey also found that only 26% of people agreed that Facebook is a good way of sharing news of a death beyond the immediate circle of family and friends, with 50% disagreeing. Only 21% of people agreed that Facebook is the best method of sharing news of a terminal diagnosis beyond close friends and family, with 58% disagreeing.

In both cases, younger people are more likely to be comfortable sharing such news on Facebook than older. 25% of 18-24-year-olds agreed that they would share that they knew they were dying on Facebook, rising to 31% for 25-34-year-olds but falling to 11% for the over 65s.

Men are slightly more likely to unfriend someone on Facebook soon after that person’s death, with 10% agreeing against only 7% of women.

James Norris of the Digital Legacy Association said “this shows how important Facebook is as a tool to remember and mourn the deceased. That so few people would unfriend someone on Facebook after their death gives us a small indication as to the importance Facebook is providing into posterity”.

This research does however also highlight that there are limits to what we are willing to share. For example, only 11% of those over the age of 65 would inform their Facebook friends of their condition if the prognosis was terminal”.

James predicts our willingness to share personal information such as diagnosed conditions and areas relating to end of life will increase in the coming years.

Make sure your online accounts get deleted when you die

Make sure your online accounts get deleted when you die

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Not everyone wants to leave this earth with their online accounts being managed by relatives and next-of-kin, or just floating around on the Internet forever. If you’re the kind of person who likes your privacy — even in death — you should probably make some plans to have all of your online and social media accounts nuked when you pass away.

Some services, such as Google and Facebook, let you set up your eventual account deletion before you get anywhere close to death. Other services will keep your account forever unless an immediate family member or the executor of your estate requests it be removed. Here’s how to make sure all your loose ends are tied up, and that nobody ever gets hold of your top-secret/possibly incriminating emails and Twitter direct messages.

Google

Google’s Inactive Account Manager lets you choose what happens to your account when it becomes inactive for a certain period of time. You can set up the Inactive Account Manager to delete your Google account and all products associated with that account, including Gmail, Blogger, AdSense, and YouTube.

To set this up, log in to your Google account and go to this page. You will need to provide Google with a phone number for alerts — Google will send a message to this number before your account times out, so you know your account is about to become inactive. You will then need to select a timeout period (3 months, 6 months, 9 months, one year, 15 months, or 18 months).

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Then, under Optionally delete account, turn on Delete my account. Click Enable to turn the Inactive Account Manager on, and you’re set. If you fail to log in to your account for the timeout period you selected, Google will delete your Google account and all data associated with it.

Facebook

Facebook is one of few online services that lets you set a legacy contact — someone who can manage parts of your account and memorialize your page — for when you die. Facebook also lets you delete your account when you die (though it doesn’t use inactivity to determine that you’ve passed away).

To make sure your Facebook account is deleted when you die, open Facebook and go to Settings > Security > Legacy Contact. Check the box next to Account Deletion.

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Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

You will see a pop-up box asking if you really want to delete your account in the future. Click Delete After Death and then re-enter your Facebook password to save your changes. Your account will now be deleted when Facebook is notified of your death — this means that if anybody tries to memorialize your page, it will be deleted instead of memorialized.

Use a digital legacy service

Google and Facebook give you the power to delete your account when you die, but many sites and services — such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Microsoft, and Yahoo — do not. These sites will delete the account of a deceased person at the request of an immediate family member or the executor of an estate (by the way, you can and should delineate how you want your digital life to be handled in your last will and testament). If you want to take full control, you can use a digital legacy services like Perpetu.

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Perpetu is an online service that covers Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Flickr, LinkedIn and GitHub. You connect your accounts to Perpetu, and then you outline your final wishes for each service — for example, you can request that Perpetu delete certain emails from your Gmail account, delete tweets and direct messages from Twitter, or delete files from your Dropbox account.

The service can’t really delete actual accounts, but it can delete data and leave final updates for your friends and family to see. Perpetu’s service kicks in when the company receives a report of your death from a trusted contact with your reporting code, so it’s still a good idea to put this in your will.